NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — NFL owners overwhelmingly approved a deal to end the lockout on Thursday.

Only one problem: The players aren’t ready to join them just yet. And it seems a vote before the weekend is unlikely.

“Player leadership is discussing the most recent written proposal with the NFL, which includes a settlement agreement, deal terms and the right process for addressing recertification,” NFLPA president Kevin Mawae said in a statement on Friday. “There will not be any further NFLPA statements today out of respect for the Kraft family while they mourn the loss of Myra Kraft.”

So America’s most popular sport remains in labor limbo a bit longer.

Listen: Jets’ Brad Smith updates WFAN’s Adam the Bull on the labor situation

The owners voted 31-0 for a decade-long deal to settle the impasse, but any giddiness among fans was quickly snuffed out. The players declined to vote on the proposal, at least right away, and a rash of Twitter messages left little doubt that plenty of work remains before there’s any blocking and tackling.

Tweeted Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas: “It’s not over people, don’t believe the hype, but we close.”

“NFL players! Stay strong! We are still fighting for past, present and future players. We will vote when they give us something to vote on!” wrote Ryan Clark of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“The NFL is not Suge Knight … they not gonna hang us out a window and make us sign something lol,” Panthers defensive back Gerald Alexander wrote.

Added Robert Johnson of the Tennessee Titans: “Owners tried to pull a fast 1 on us making the fans believe it’s because of US the players….Not this time buddy.”

Listen: Thomas talks owner vote with Anita Marks

Meanwhile, NFL general managers and other team executives are meeting to discuss specifics of the labor agreement approved by owners and make plans for the season while awaiting the players’ vote on the deal.

Four executives from each team have been invited to Friday morning’s session at a hotel near the Atlanta airport. The executives are learning the details of the labor agreement approved by owners.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners expressed hope on Thursday that their vote would lead to a speedy resolution to the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987. They called it an equitable deal that improves player safety and allows the sport to prosper even more.

“It is time to get back to football,” a weary Goodell said during an evening news conference at an Atlanta-area hotel.

The players said they won’t be rushed into a deal, even with the owners insisting that time is running out to get in a full slate of four preseason games and 16 regular-season contests.

Already, one game is sure to be lost: The league called off the Hall of Fame exhibition opener, set for Aug. 7 between Chicago and St. Louis.

“The time was just too short,” Goodell said.

The owners pored over details of the proposed settlement for some nine hours, first breaking for lunch, then sending for dinner before a vote finally was taken. Every team approved it except the Oakland Raiders, who abstained.

Afterward, no one seemed in a celebratory mood. It sounded more like relief.

“These things, by their very nature, aren’t supposed to make you necessarily happy when you walk out the door. It was a negotiation,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “I don’t mean to sound negative, but it isn’t exactly like Christmas has come along here.”

Instead, Jones and his fellow owners called if a fair process involving plenty of give-and-take on both sides.

It’s been long and at times has been very, very difficult,” said Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers. “We’re confident that the players and the teams have arrived at a good place. We think we have a fair, balanced agreement.”

But George Wilson, the player representative for the Buffalo Bills, called the owners’ vote and subsequent news conference “an attempt to break the spirits of our men and to fracture the solidarity that we’ve exemplified thus far.”

He said the deal approved by the owners included provisions the players haven’t even seen, which is why no vote was taken during a conference call Thursday night.

“Ultimately, the guys felt like this thing is being force-fed to us, that it’s being shoved down our throats,” Wilson told The Associated Press. “And the way everything transpired this evening, in a sense, was trying to add more pressure to the situation and force us to accept this deal without really being able to see all the details of what they voted on.”

Clearly, the basic outline of the proposed agreement — much of which was agreed upon a week ago — can still produce a deal acceptable to both owners and players. Maybe, given all the enmity displayed during the four-month work stoppage, it was farfetched to think everything would go smoothly at the end.

“I don’t think this deal is blown up,” Wilson said. “We can definitely work through these issues.”

The fans are tired of all the labor talk. They’re just ready for some football.

“Finally,” said Dave Gower of Knoxville, Tenn., who just happened to be staying at the hotel where the owners met. “I don’t understand why it took so long. I hope the players take it and run with it.”

Packers president Mark Murphy said no one was trying to pull a fast one on the players, or pressure them into accepting an owner-friendly framework for divvying up more than $9 billion in annual revenues. He also dismissed the idea of going back to the bargaining table.

“We put our pens down,” Murphy said. “We’ve negotiated. We’ve been negotiating in good faith with the union, we reached agreement on all the key points. They’re voting on the same thing that we ratified.”

Not so, said NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith, who talked with Goodell several times by phone during the day and was informed of the owners’ vote before an official announcement went out. It didn’t take long for Smith to fire off an email to team reps denying it was a done deal.

“Issues that need to be collectively bargained remain open; other issues, such as workers’ compensation, economic issues and end of deal terms, remain unresolved. There is no agreement between the NFL and the players at this time,” Smith wrote.

Unhappy with the old collective bargaining agreement, owners exercised an opt-out clause three years ago, setting the stage for this labor dispute. The new deal does not contain an opt-out clause.

If players approve the agreement, team facilities would open Saturday, and the new league year would begin Wednesday, with full free agency and the opening of training camps.

“I can’t say we got everything we wanted to get in the deal. I’m sure (players) would say the same thing,” Giants owner John Mara said. “The best thing about it is our fans don’t have to hear about labor-management relations for another 10 years.”

He didn’t say anything about the next few days.

The old CBA expired March 11, when federally mediated negotiations fell apart, and the owners locked out the players hours later. Since then, teams have not been allowed to communicate with current NFL players; players — including those drafted in April — could not be signed; and teams did not pay for players’ health insurance.

Final issues involved how to set aside three pending court cases, including the antitrust lawsuit filed against the NFL in federal court in Minnesota by Tom Brady and nine other players. Pash, the NFL’s lead negotiator, said the owners’ understanding is that case will be dismissed.

One thing owners originally sought and won’t get, at least right away, is expanding the regular season from 16 games to 18. That won’t change before 2013, and the players must agree to a switch. Most oppose a longer season, claiming it will increase the risk of injuries and shorten careers.

“We heard the players loud and clear. They pushed back pretty hard on that issue,” said Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, chairman of the league’s competition committee.

Goodell also announced that owners approved a supplemental revenue-sharing system, something Smith noted in his email to team reps.

“Obviously, we have not been a part of those discussions,” he wrote.

Even after all acceptable terms are established, a deal would lead to a new CBA only if NFLPA team reps recommend re-establishing the group as a union, which must be approved by a majority vote of the 1,900 players.

In March, when talks broke down and the old CBA expired, the NFLPA said it was dissolving itself as a union and instead becoming a trade association, a move that allowed the players to sue the league under antitrust law. But only a union can sign off on a CBA.

The deal would make significant changes in offseason workout schedules, reducing team programs by five weeks and cutting organized team activities (OTAs) from 14 to 10 sessions. There will be limited on-field practice time and contact, and more days off for players.

Current players would be able to stay in the medical plan for life. They also will have an injury protection benefit of up to $1 million of a player’s salary for the year after his injury and up to $500,000 in the second year after his injury.

A total of $50 million per year will go into a joint fund for medical research, health-care programs, and charities.

If the players approve the deal, the NFL would get back to work right away:

—On Saturday, teams can stage voluntary workouts at club facilities, and players may be waived. Contracts can be re-negotiated and clubs can sign draft picks and their own free agents. Teams can also negotiate with, but not sign, free agents from other clubs and undrafted rookies.

—On Sunday, teams can sign undrafted rookies.

—On Wednesday, free agency opens in full, and all training camps will open with a 90-man roster limit; activities that day will be limited to physicals, meetings and conditioning. All clubs must be under the salary cap.

But first, the players must approve the deal. Buffalo’s Wilson said he was not aware of a players’ vote having been scheduled for Friday.

“We treat this like a football game: You have one bad play, move on to the next play. You don’t sit and harp on the negative plays,” Wilson said. “Ultimately, tomorrow’s a new day.”

Admit it: you expected to wake up on Friday to a done deal. Fire off your frustrations in the comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (14)
  1. Jacob Jones says:

    The players want an opt-out clause, and this is their opportunity to hold management hostage to get it.. I don’t think it’s gonna work, though, and I don’t really have an issue with the players trying this maneuver, considering the owners were the ones who started the ball on this nonsense (splitting up 9 bil shouldn’t be this difficult).. I can see the first 2 weeks of preseason getting axed because of this..

  2. HooDatIS? says:

    how bout we just recruit all rookies and start the heck over these guys are making me sick

  3. Bob Fowler says:

    Let’s see…the owners forced a lockout, 4 months ago, and now, because they are at risk of losing $200 million for the first week of exhibition games, the players must immediately sign off on what the owners agreed on?

    First, dealing and negotiating in good faith could have been going on for 2 years. Instead, the owners tried a power play, and it apparently didn’t work out so well for them.

    Next, the owners have decided that there must be a union? When has any owner EVER wanted a union? Also, why would there need to be a union in order to have Workers Compensation, lifetime healthcare, or an adequate pension?

    Finally, trying to get 1900 people to understand and agree on a 200 page contract should take longer than 15 minutes. And as for the ‘Brady/Brees” lawsuit, they should remain independent from the collective bargaining agreement (which can’t be collectively bargained without the union).

    There are good and fair owners, but so long as the likes of Jerry Jones, Al Davis and Daniel Snyder are around, the players should drag them through the financial mud. I have a life besides football, so if they don’t play, I won’t miss a beat.

  4. richorlfl says:

    Maybe it’s time for replacement player football again…? At this point in time, listening to all this Congress-like bickering, I wouldn’t mind buying half-priced tickets to watch half-priced players wear my team’s colors (& with pride & enthusiasm, I’d think, given the opportunity they’d be receiving…). PLUS, as a bonus, fans would get the satisfaction of knowing that broadcasters & advertisers would still be paying the current big dollars to the greedy NFL to show games & display their products to 1/2 the viewers w/ 1/2 as much interest in the games. Sounds like the WIN-WIN situation for average football fans…

  5. Tommy C says:

    For you clowns thata haven’t played a sport in ur life . The average football players career lasts 3.2 yrs any play could be there last . Very few make the BIG money . Some have life-long problems look at Dave Duerson for instance God rest his soul. What the owners are trying to do is a microgoism of whats going on in this country sucking the blood from the workers just to stuff more money in their greedy lil pockets . Wake up America and smell the coffee…..before its too late .

    1. ED says:


    2. Ellen says:

      Tommy C can see where your coming from, but it’s the timing. Bad economy, no jobs and so forth. it’s like your going to find it hard in this day to find any sympathy coming from the so called fans. By the way I had a cousin that played football and to this day dealing with injuries resulting from that game, and he’s not rich by any way shape or form. So like I said, can see where your coming from.

  6. david weeks says:

    Come one enough is enough, now the Players are the ones being stupid. Don ‘t you think they would have thought of this nonsense earlier. i am getting fed up. I will be watching alot more College games this year.

  7. Ellen says:

    Bad timing that’s for sure. We have people losing their homes, being laid off, can’t find work, and we’re suppose to feel sorry for the ultra rich whether a team owner or football player. Like I said, Bad Timing.

  8. The Motivator says:

    Zzzzzzz. Making me fall asleep with how much I care about super-rich team owners fighting with rich players. All these people have plenty of money while their fellow Americans struggle to buy gas at over $4/gallon. Give me a damn break already. How much of their $9 billion are they throwing in towards our National Debt or to help relieve tax burden on poor people? I could care less about these greedy losers and hope all their private planes crash.

  9. Nanomi Doane says:

    I just want to watch football

  10. Conrad Weis says:

    We’ll now find out just how greedy the players are. Will they bend over the fans just to “make a point” to the owners? Dey feel like dey was dissed yo.

    Balls in their court. I’m ready to switch to hockey if they delay this any further. NFL isn’t the only game in town you know. 🙂

  11. basil fomine says:


    1. dannyjhybrid says:

      the 150 million people who watched the super bowl or maybe the 20 million on average viewers who tune in every week…

      Just a guess though.

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